Motion picture rating system

Motion picture rating system

A motion picture rating system is designated to classify films with regard to suitability for audiences in terms of issues such as sex, violence, substance abuse, profanity, impudence or other types of mature content. A particular issued rating can be called a certification, classification, certificate or rating.

This is designed to help parents decide whether a movie is suitable for their children. Yet, the effectiveness of these designations is widely disputed. Also, in some jurisdictions a rating may impose on movie theaters the legal obligation of refusing the entrance of children or minors to the movie. Furthermore, where movie theaters do not have this legal obligation, they may enforce restrictions on their own. Ratings are often given in lieu of censorship. Movie theater's often have time restrictions on what time kids can come in with their parent.

In countries such as Australia, an official government censorship system decides on ratings; in other countries, such as the United States, it is done by industry committees with little, if any official government status. In most countries, however, films that are considered morally offensive have been censored, restricted, or banned. Even if the film rating system has no legal consequences, and a film has not explicitly been restricted or banned, there are usually laws forbidding certain films, or forbidding minors to view them.

The influence of specific factors in deciding a rating varies from country to country. For example, in countries such as the US, films with strong sexual content are often restricted to adult viewers, whereas in countries such as France and Germany, sexual content is viewed much more leniently. On the other hand, films with violent content are often subject in countries such as Germany and Finland to high ratings and even censorship, whereas countries such as the US offer more lenient ratings to violent movies.

Other factors may or may not influence the classification process, such as being set within a non-fictional historical context, whether the film glorifies violence or drug use, whether said violence or drug use is carried out by the protagonist, with whom the viewer should empathize, or by the antagonist. In Germany, for example, films depicting explicit war violence in a real war context (such as the Second World War) are handled more leniently than films with purely fictional settings.

A film may be produced with a particular rating in mind. It may be re-edited if the desired rating is not obtained, especially to avoid a higher rating than intended. A film may also be re-edited to produce an alternate version for other countries.



A comparison of currently active film rating systems, showing age on the horizontal axis.

Country/System 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Adult Other Notes
Australia ACB G PG M MA15+ R18+/X18+ RC MA15+ and R18+ are legally restricted. X18+ is banned in all states of Australia except for the territories. RC (Refused Classification) is banned publicly but can be viewed privately.
Brazil MJ/DEJUS ER L 10 12 14 16 18 N/A
Argentina Atp 13 16 18 N/A
Bulgaria A B C D X F Only D-rated and X-rated films are restricted. F-rated films are banned.
Canada CHVRS [1] G PG 14A 18A and R AA The 18A rating was introduced because a few films were too strong for the 14A rating but did not have enough violence or sexual content to get banned or A rated.
Colombia MoC T 7 12 15 18/X Banned
Czech Republic U 12 15 18 N/A
Denmark Medierådet A 7 11 15 F Children turned seven can watch 11-rated and 15-rated films provided they are accompanied by an adult.
F is only used on homevideo, as "Fritaget" exempt from classification, mostly documentaries, stand-up and educational material
Egypt General Audience (Unrestricted) Adult (Restricted) N/A
Estonia PERE L MS-6 K-12 K-14 K-16 N/A Movies which are rated K-12, K-14 and K-16 require age proof.
Finland FBFC S K-3 K-7 K-11 K-13 K-15 K-18 N/A Children up to 2 years younger than the given rating can watch movies rated K-3 to K-15 when accompanied by an adult.
Country/System 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Adult Other Notes
France MoC U -10 -12 -16 -18 N/A The "-10" rating only exists for television.
Germany FSK FSK 0 FSK 6 FSK 12 FSK 16 FSK 18 N/A All ratings are restricted.
Greece K K-13 K-17 N/A Films which are rated K-17 require age proof.
Hong Kong TELA I IIA IIB III N/A Only persons aged 18 and above are permitted to watch Category III films.
Hungary KN 6 12 16 18 X N/A
South Korea ALL 12 15 18 Restricted Rating restriction rating is none.
Iceland Smáís L 7 12 14 16 18 N/A
India CBFC U U/A A S The "S" rating is sometimes used to restrict films to certain audience only.
Indonesia IFCB A/SU BO-A BO BO-R/R D N/A
Republic of Ireland IFCO G 12/12A 15/15A/16 18 N/A The categories 12A, 15A and 16 only exist for cinema. Video releases of movies with these ratings usually get, if they are rated 12A, they are rated 12, if they are rated 15A, they are rated 15, and if rated 16, they are rated 18.
Italy MiBAC T VM14 VM18 N/A
Country/System 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Adult Other Notes
Japan Eirin G PG-12 R15+ R18+ N/A
Latvia NCC U 7+ 12+ 16+ 18+ N/A The U, 7+, 12+ and 16+ ratings are unrestricted. If the 18+ rating appears blue it is unrestricted but if it is red then it is restricted.
Maldives NBC G PG 12+ 15+ 18+/18+R PU Any film with an 18+R classification should advertise with a warning on specified contents presumed directly or indirectly affecting an individual. PU films are allowed for professional use only.
Mexico RTC AA A B B-15 C D N/A The "B-15" rating is for cinema only.
Netherlands Kijkwijzer AL 6 9 12 16 N/A 12-rated programs can only air past 8PM and 16-rated programs can only air past 10PM.
New Zealand OFLCNZ G PG R13/R15/R16 R18 N/A All ages may watch an M title, but parents are advised that the content is more suitable for mature people 16 years and over. Nobody under the given age can legally see an R rated film, although sometimes an RP rating is provided meaning that those under the given age must watch under adult supervision.
Nigeria NFaVCB G PG 12/12A 15 18 N/A
Norway A 7 11 15 18 N/A Children up to four years younger than the given rating (with the exception of 18-rated films) can watch the film provided they are accompanied by an adult.
Peru Apt 14 18 N/A Children under the given rating cannot watch unless accompanied by an adult.
Philippines MTRCB GP R-13 R-18 X Until the early 2000s, a plain R rating was used instead of the current R-13 and R-18 ratings. This previous rating restricted the audience to those above 17.
Poland KRRiT BO 7 12 15 18A 18 N/A 7 is not considered an official rating.
Country/System 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Adult Other Notes
Portugal CCE M/4 M/6 M/12 M/16 M/18 N/A
Singapore MDA G PG/PG13 NC16 M18 R21 N/A Movies rated "R21" are excluded from television ads and video releases.
South Africa FaPB G PG 13 16 R18/X18 N/A X18-rated media is prevented from having a cinema release or a television advertisement.
Sweden Statens medieråd Btl 7 11 15
N/A Younger children can watch 7-rated films, and if at least 7 years old 11-rated, if accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old.
Some rental shops and adult cinemas use an unofficial "18 år" (from 18 years) rating
Republic of China GIO



N/A Children up to six years younger than 12 (Protect) or 18 (Counsel) may watch however only if under parental guidance.
Thailand P/G 13+ 15+ 18+ X18+ Banned Before the rating system was introduced often cut were made to reduce sexual content.
United Kingdom BBFC U PG 12A/12 15 18/R18 Rejected 12A legally requires parental supervision for those under 12. R18 is usually reserved for pornographic content only, but, on rare cases, the cert has been given out to programs with extreme graphic violence/gore. Films marked "Rejected" are banned.
United States MPAA G PG PG-13 R NC-17 NR (Not Rated)
NC-17 means those who are 17 or under are not allowed in, thus one must be 18 or over for admittance. NR and Unrated cannot be viewed in theaters, however, can be broadcasted on Television and/or released on Home Video.
United States FAB C/F PD PD-M EM AO N/A This rating system is only used for films which are exempt from classification by the MPAA.
Canada CAC G PG 12 16 18 21 This rating system is the same as the CHVRS. It only exists for cartoons.
Canada CHVRS (1994–2005) G PG/DP 14 18 XXX NA (Not Approved) This rating system is the same as the CHVRS. It only exists for rental. DP means "parental guidance" in French. XXX means "explicit material".
Country/System 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Adult Other Notes


  •  Spring Green  + Lime All ages may watch.
  •  Yellow Parental guidance is suggested.
  •  Orange Not recommended for a younger audience but not restricted.
  •  Red + Brown Restricted to an older audience unless accompanied by an adult.
  •  Black Restricted to adults only.
  •  Purple Doesn't have a rating but public viewing prohibited but can be bought if not in a public store.

Explanations of specific ratings are available below.


Australian Ratings

The Classification Board and Classification Review Board are government-funded organizations which classifies all films that are released for public exhibition.

  •  E Exempt from classification. Films that are exempt from classification must not contain contentious material (i.e. material that would ordinarily be rated M or higher).
  •  G General. The content is very mild in impact.
  •  PG Parental guidance recommended. There are no age restrictions. The content is mild in impact.
  •  M Recommended for mature audiences. There are no age restrictions. The content is moderate in impact.
  •  MA15+ Mature Accompanied. Unsuitable for children younger than 15. Children younger than 15 years must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The content is strong in impact.
  •  R18+ Restricted to 18 years and over (Only films). Adults only. The content is high in impact.
  •  X18+ Restricted to 18 years and over (Only films). Films with this rating have pornographical content. No violence nor "fetishes", including spanking, may only be legally sold in the two territories (ACT and the Northern Territory but may be purchased interstate via mail order). The content is sexually explicit in impact.
  •  RC Refused Classification. Banned from sale or hire in Australia. Films are rated RC if their content exceeds the guidelines. The content is extremely high in impact.



Motion pictures are rated in Austria by a commission of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture (Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur). This commission issues an age recommendation for each title from the following list:

  • Freigegeben für alle Altersstufen – no age restriction
  • Freigegeben ab 6 Jahren – not recommended for people younger than 6 years of age
  • Freigegeben ab 10 Jahren – not recommended for people younger than 10 years of age
  • Freigegeben ab 12 Jahren – not recommended for people younger than 12 years of age
  • Freigegeben ab 14 Jahren – not recommended for people younger than 14 years of age
  • Freigegeben ab 16 Jahren – not recommended for people younger than 16 years of age

The ratings are published on the ministries website and can be either accepted or changed by the nine federal states.

DVD and video

Home video releases are not rated in Austria Usually the German FSK-ratings are printed on the cases, although they do not have any legal meaning. For this reason many films which are banned in Germany can be bought on DVD in Austria.


There are only three classifications for movies shown in Belgian movie theatres:

  • KT/EAKinderen Toegelaten/Enfants Admis (Children Admitted) – Allowed for all
  • KNT/ENAKinderen Niet Toegelaten/Enfants Non Admis (Children Not Admitted) – Not allowed for children younger than 16 years of age
  • E – Exempt

For DVD releases, Belgium uses the same system as the Netherlands.


Symbols used by the Ministry of Justice for the film ratings

Movies are rated in Brazil by the DJCTQ, or Department of Justice, Rating, Titles and Qualification (Departamento de Justiça, Classificação, Títulos e Qualificação in Portuguese), controlled by the Brazilian Ministry of Justice (Ministério da Justiça). No "parental guidance" ratings are used. The same rating system is also used for television shows.

The DJCTQ uses the following system:

  •  ER  Especialmente Recomendado para Crianças e Adolescentes (Especially Recommended for Children and Teenagers): This rating means that the film is especially advised for children and teenagers. Contains educational material, and does not have any inappropriate content.
  •  L  Livre para Todos os Públicos (General Audiences): This rating means that the film contains no objectionable content and can be viewed by anyone, regardless of age.
  •  10  Não Recomendado para Menores de 10 Anos (Not Recommended for Viewers younger than 10 Years of Age): This film is recommended for persons with or over 10 years of age. May contain mild sexual and coarse language, obscenities, threat, mild physical or verbal aggression, drug allusions.
  •  12  Não Recomendado para Menores de 12 Anos (Not Recommended for Viewers younger than 12 Years of Age): This film is recommended for persons with or over 12 years of age. May contain nudity, sexual language, obscenities, violence, sexuality, exposure of people in embarrassing or degrading situations, detailed description of a crime and aggressive acts, physical or verbal aggression (murder or mistreatment of animals, for example), exposure of a corpse, legal or illegal drug use.
  •  14  Não Recomendado para Menores de 14 Anos (Not Recommended for Viewers younger than 14 Years of Age): This film is recommended for persons with or over 14 years of age. May contain nudity, intimate petting, heavy sexual and coarse language, violence (physical or verbal aggression, murder, torture and suicide), illegal drug use, frequent and explicit legal drug use.
  •  16  Não Recomendado para Menores de 16 Anos (Not Recommended for Viewers younger than 16 Years of Age): This film is recommended for persons with or over 16 years of age. May contain sexual intercourse, nudity and heavy petting, graphic violence (murder and heavy physical aggression, torture, rape, mutilation, sexual abuse), explicit illegal drug use, induction to drug use.
  •  18  Não Recomendado para Menores de 18 Anos (Not Recommended for Viewers younger than 18 Years of Age): This film is forbidden for people younger than 18 years of age. It may contain explicit sex, pornography, extreme violence (murder, torture, rape, mutilation, graphic exposure of a corpse), frequent and explicit illegal drug use and incest. It is also used to rate pornographic films.

People younger than the minimum age indicated by the rating can watch the movie accompanied by their parents or an adult guardian, except for pornographic films. The films are rated by trained raters and, more recently, the DJCTQ has surveyed the audience's opinions on the ratings indicated for specific films. No "parental guidance" ratings are used.


The Bulgarian film rating system is defined in the Film Industry Law (or Act) of 2003. The National Film Rating Committee examines every film that is going to be distributed in the country and gives it a rating. In practice, the ratings are rarely displayed on posters and in film advertisements, but almost all DVDs have them on the back cover.

Bulgarian film ratings
Rating Accompanying inscription When is it given
A Recommended to children "When the film is for children and has an educational nature."
B No age restrictions "When the film confirms the ideals of humanism, promotes national and world culture or by no means contradicts to the universally accepted moral norms in the country and there are no restrictive recommendations by the Committee."
C Not recommended to children younger than 12 years of age. "When the film contains certain erotic scenes or scenes with drinking, taking drugs or stimulants or a few scenes of violence."
D No people younger than 16 years of age are admitted. "When the film contains quite a number of erotic scenes or scenes with drinking, taking drugs or stimulants or a considerable number of scenes showing violence."
X No people younger than the age of 18 are admitted. "When the film is naturally erotic."
F "Films the contents of which is contrary to the universal rules of morality, that laud or exculpate atrocity, violence or taking drugs, that incite to racial, sexual, religious or national hatred, are not rated."

Note: unrated films can not be distributed, as no visa is given.

Before 2003 there was another rating system which was very similar to the current one (the same letter ratings were used, but the meaning of most letters was different; for example "B" stood for "not recommended for persons under the age of 12").

In practice, the rating "B" is given to most popular American films, even if they receive a more restrictive one in other countries.

In 2007, a few changes to the law were made, the effect of which will probably not be big for the rating system, though a film's rating could change. These changes are in effect from January 1, 2008.

Note: parts of the table above uses quotes from the English translation of the Bulgarian Film Industry Act published on the website of the Union of Bulgarian Film Makers.


Movie ratings in Canada are a provincial responsibility, and each province has its own legislation, rules and regulations regarding rating, exhibition and admission. Ratings are required for theatrical showings of movies, but are not required for home video. Film festivals which show unrated films (because they are independent films or foreign films not submitted for ratings) are treated as private showings by selling memberships to the festival, which circumvents the theatrical rating requirement.

There are currently six film classification offices rating movies in Canada, each an agency of a provincial government:

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador has not legislated on film ratings and does not have a dedicated agency; some theatres use the ratings of the Maritime Film Classification Board.

Home video ratings

Outside Québec

Rating Letter(s)
G General
All ages (Green)
PG Parental
Parental guidance
is advised (Blue)
14A 14
Under 14s must be
accompanied by
an adult at least
18 years old (yellow)
18A 18
Under 18 must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old. (In Manitoba and the Maritimes, people under 14 are prohibited from viewing the film.
R Restricted Only for adults at
least 18 years old,has explicit sex violence (Pink)

[2] All the provincial film boards (except the Québec Régie du cinéma) participate in the Canadian Home Video Rating System (CHVRS), a classification applied to home video products such as DVDs, Blu-ray Discs and VHS tapes. The ratings of the individual film boards are averaged and applied by the distributor on home video packaging.

Major American studios and distributors usually print the CHVRS ratings along with the Motion Picture Association of America ratings, on materials destined for North American markets. Canadian products for the Canadian market use CHVRS alone.

In Québec


In Québec, the Régie du cinéma ratings apply to home video products. Sticker rating labels must be provided by the distributor, and displayed on rental material.

The ratings are as follows:

  • G Suitable for all. Violence is allowed but it must be in a fantasy context and non-explicit. If there is any swearing it must be appropriate for younger children. Sexual content must be kept to an extreme minimum. Horror elements may be present but only in a way which is unlikely to scare younger children. Drug use is not allowed.
  • 13+ Unsuitable for children under age 13. Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Stronger fantasy violence may be present, but if there is any blood it will be kept to a minimum. Explicit language is allowed but it cannot be used throughout. Mild sexual content is allowed, as is very mild sexual nudity but only if it is brief and implied. Strong horror moments are acceptable if it is deemed to be appropriate for young teenagers. Infrequent use of milder drugs is allowed.
  • 16+ Unsuitable for children under age 16. Children under 16 will not be allowed to buy media with this rating regardless of whether they are accompanied by an adult. Realistic violence is allowed to a certain extent, and moderate detail of injury is also acceptable. There is no restrictions on language at the "16+" category. Moderate sexual content and mild sexual nudity is acceptable. Horror mixed with violence is acceptable in most cases. Drug use is permitted so long as it is not explicit.
  • 18+ Most certainly unsuitable for children, and therefore off-limits from children. (A prime example is the R-rated drama Fight Club) Media with this category must be placed in a separate room. Pretty much anything that is not appropriate for children is accepted so long as it is within the law. This rating is very rarely used.


The Council of Cinematographic Classification (Consejo de Calificación Cinematográfica) uses the following system:

  • TE (Todo Espectador) – For all audiences.
  • Mayores de 14 años – Inappropriate for children younger than 14.
  • Mayores de 18 años – Suitable for people aged 18 and older. Children younger than 18 may be accompanied by a parent or guardian 18 or older.
  • Inconveniente para menores de 7 años (Inconvenient for children under 7 years) – Not suitable for children younger than 7 years
  • 18/S – Suitable for people aged 18 and older with sexually explicit content. This indication signifies that the film essentially contains scenes of real and explicit sexual activity.
  • 18/V – Suitable for people aged 18 and older with extreme violence

People's Republic of China

The first film rating system of the People's Republic of China was expected to come out in 2005 as a part of the Motion Picture Industry Promotion Law (Chinese: 电影促进法).[3] However, the National People's Congress has not passed such a law.


As of June 22, 2005, the Ministry of Culture issued its new rating system. The classifications are:

  • T: for general audiences. The T means "Todos", meaning "all."
  • 7: for movies suitable for children aged 7 and above.
  • 12: for movies suitable for children aged 12 and above.
  • 15: for movies suitable for children aged 15 and above.
  • 18: for movies suitable for people aged 18 and above.
  • X: for pornography.
  • Banned: for movies "containing elements inciting to crime or making a concrete endorsement of it."
  • E: Exempt.

Czech Republic

  • U – Suitable for all audiences
  • PG – Parental Guidance recommended for children under 12
  • 12 – Suitable for children 12 and over
  • 15 – Suitable for children 15 and over
  • 18 – Suitable for viewers 18 and over
  • E – Exempt from classification


Prior to 1997, the releases in Denmark were rated by the National Board of Film Censorship and the possible classifications were:

  • TILLADT FOR ALLE: Approval of the film for general admittance.
  • TILLADT OVER 7 ÅR: Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 7. (Introduced in 1980)
  • TILLADT OVER 12 ÅR: Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 12. (Introduced in 1960)
  • TILLADT OVER 16 ÅR: Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 16.

The laws were then relaxed and the ratings were made less strict. The Media Council for Children and Young People currently rates films. The classifications from then on was:

Dkcensuralle.gif Approval of the film for general admittance.

Dkcensur7.gif Approval of the film for general admittance, but not recommended for children younger than the age of 7.

Dkcensur11.gif Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 11.

Dkcensur15.gif Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 15.

Dkcensurfri.gif Exempt from classification – only usen on home video products (mostly documentaries, Danish stand-up shows and educational material)

Children who have turned 7 are allowed admission to all films if accompanied by an adult (a person turned 18). Consequently it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure that their children do not watch violent and hard-core pornographic films.

Films accessible to the public do not have to be classified by the Media Council but consequently must be labeled as 15 – approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 15 – no matter the content of the film.

At Cinemas the 11 and 15 classifications are restricted, and the cinema has to make sure that you are the right age, or if over 7 years old, accompanied by an adult.

On the home video market, only 15 is restricted, and the retailer must make sure that the purchaser is 15 years or older. It is illeagal to sell a 15 certified movie to a person under 15 years.


The Egyptian government has only three movie classifications:

  • General Audience – Everyone is admitted.
  • Adults Only – Restricted to audiences aged 18 and above.
  • Exempt from Classification

Usually excessive violence, nudity, and sexuality is cut from motion pictures in order to release with a General audience certificate.


  • PERE – Suitable even for the youngest children
  • L – For all audiences with no age limit
  • MS-6 – Under 6 not recommended
  • MS-12 – Under 12 not recommended
  • K-12 – Under 12 not allowed. The film contains moderate language and violence, nudity without sexual context and mild drug use. Age checking is mandatory.
  • K-14 – Under 14 not allowed. The film contains explicit language, intense violence, nudity, mild sex scenes and drug use. Age checking is mandatory.
  • K-16 – Under 16 not allowed. The film contains explicit language and violence, nudity, sex scenes/pornography and illegal or explicit drug use. Age checking is mandatory.

Films rated MS-6 and MS-12 are allowed for these age groups only under parental guidance. But, K-12, K-14 and K-16 are not allowed even under parental guidance. The Estonian rating system is considered to be milder than in the USA and Western Europe.[4]


The Finnish Board of Film Classification has a film classification system under which films are classified into one of the following categories:

  • K-3 (formerly S) – For all ages (green sign) The content is mild in this category, K-3 movies are unlikely to contains violence or sexual material or horror. Documentary films without graphic detail also receive this rating.
  • K-7 – Only for persons 7 years or older (yellow sign) The content is mild to moderate. Violence is permitted but is limited to comic context or animated. K-7 films may contain drug references and sexual material but should be very limited. Most animations and comedies receive this rating.
  • K-11 – Only for persons 11 years or older (orange sign) The content is moderate. Violence and horror are permitted, but they must not be very detailed. Drug use and sexual material are permitted but without very much of details. Fantasy films like Harry Potter receive this rating.
  • K-13 – Only for persons 13 years or older (orange sign) Content is moderate to strong. Graphic violence is allowed, but only in a comedic context. Drug use can be graphic but limited. Horror and extended sexual material is allowed. But must not be aggresive. Movies like Avatar and Inception are likely to earn this rating.
  • K-15 – Only for persons 15 years or older (orange sign) The content is strong to very strong. Violence in K-15 category is often very graphic and sometimes cruel/sadistic. Detailed and bloody violence is allowed but must not exceed any kind of prolonged or very sadistic acts. Horror can be supernatural or realistic. Horror combined with very grotesque images is not allowed. Drug use can be graphic and frequent. Sexual material (including assault) is allowed, but must not be overused for the story-line. Movies like Final Destination and Funny Games are likely to receive this rating.
  • K-18 – Only for persons 18 years or older (red sign) The content is very strong to extreme. Movies in this category include very graphic violence with sadistic manners. Drug use has no limits. Sado-masocistic sexual acts are allowed, but must not encourage the seer to mimic it in real-life. This rating applies aswell for "unchecked" material released in Finland
  • K-E – Exempt

A person two years younger than the given rating is permitted to see a film in a movie theater when accompanied by an adult, except for 18-rated films.

Only material intended to be accessible to minors (those below 18 years of age) is subject to mandatory inspection. A proper notification is sufficient for adult material. However, the board has the right to inspect material suspected of violating laws or material which was not properly notified.


Prior to showing in theaters, a license (visa d'exploitation) must be obtained from the Ministry of Culture. Upon the advice of the commission pertaining to cinema movies, the minister decides either not to grant the license (a very rare occurrence), or to grant a license among the 6 following:

  • U (Tous publics) valid for all audiences.
  • 10 (Déconseillé aux moins de 10 ans) unsuitable for children younger than 10 (this rating is only used for TV), on cinema its "avertissement" (warning), it means that some scenes may disturb young children and sensitive people, and on DVDs its written "accord parental" (parental guidance).
  • 12 (Interdit aux moins de 12 ans) unsuitable for children younger than 12 or forbidden in cinemas for under 12.
  • 16 (Interdit aux moins de 16 ans) unsuitable for children younger than 16 or forbidden in cinemas for under 16.
  • 18 (Interdit aux mineurs) unsuitable for children younger than 18 or forbidden in cinemas for under 18.
  • E exempt

Each rating can be accompanied by a special "warning". In practice, the ministry always follows the decision of the commission.

In addition, a movie bearing the "-18" rating may be considered "pornographic or inciting to violence" (colloquially referred to as "X-rated"). In this case, it bears high taxation and may be showed only in specific theatres, which are now rare in France. This classification is not used for merely violent movies, or movies containing mere erotic scenes.

Classifications, as all administrative decisions, may be appealed before the courts (Conseil d'État at litigation). The movie Baise-Moi went from -16 to -18 and was branded as "pornographic".

Related link: [1] (in French)


The Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Filmwirtschaft (Voluntary Self-Regulation of the Film Industry, FSK) has a film classification system under which films are classified into one of the following categories:

  • Ohne Altersbeschränkung (FSK 0): no age restriction (white sign)
  • Freigegeben ab 6 Jahren (FSK 6): no children younger than 6 years admitted (yellow sign)
  • Freigegeben ab 12 Jahren (FSK 12): children 12 or older admitted, children between 7 and 11 only when accompanied by parent or a legal guardian (green sign)
  • Freigegeben ab 16 Jahren (FSK 16): children 16 or older admitted, nobody under this age admitted (blue sign)
  • Keine Jugendfreigabe (FSK 18): "no youth admitted", only adults. This rating was previously called "Nicht freigegeben unter 18 Jahren." (red sign)
  • Infoprogramm or Lehrprogramm: "educational programming". This rating is not issued by the FSK, but may be self-applied to films seeking to educate their audience (e.g. documentaries, instructional films, etc.), provided they do not contain any material "evidently harmful to the development of children and youths".[5] Films with this rating may be sold without any age restriction.

All the above ratings also contain the phrase "gemäß §14 JuSchG" (in accordance with §14 of the Youth Protection Law), signifying that they are legally binding, rather than being mere recommendations.

  • SPIO/JK: This certificate, issued by the Spitzenorganisation der Filmwirtschaft (Head Organisation of the Film Industry, SPIO), attests that, in the eyes of the SPIO, a particular film does not violate German law, such as the ban on "glorification of violence." However, films with such a certificate may still be banned and are frequently put on the "Index". The certificate simply protects the producer/seller of a film that later gets indexed from prosecution, as he or she can claim that they had reason to believe the film did not, in fact, violate any laws. As films with this certificate are not rated by the FSK, they may be sold only to persons aged 18 or older.

Furthermore, while a rating by the FSK is not legally required for a film to be sold, "unrated" films may be sold only to adults, and since most retail chains and virtually all cinemas will sell/show only films with an FSK rating, all films are normally submitted to the FSK for classification, with the exception of films that will most likely be refused a certificate (pornography or films containing extremely strong violence, for example).

After a title has received a rating for a cinematic release, the FSK must approve this rating again for a home entertainment release. Some titles therefore have different FSK certificates for the cinematic release and for the DVD release. Usually, the FSK applies stricter rules to the home releases and therefore sometimes the distributors have to release a tamed down version.

After 10 years, films may be resubmitted to the FSK for re-rating. Older films which have gained a FSK 18 certificate during the '50s or '60s often gain a much lower certificate now, due to a more liberal approach the FSK now takes in issuing ratings. However, due to the cost involved in resubmitting a film, it is common practice to keep the old certificate for the cinematic release and only submit bonus materials or extended scenes for classification. This leads to the seemingly paradoxical result of extended, and more violent versions of previously rated films gaining a lower certificate than the original version.

Further to the above restrictions, it is also illegal to supply a film with an FSK 18, Keine Jugendfreigabe or SPIO/JK certificate, including those not on the index, without definitive means to supply proof of age. This severely limits distribution of films with these certificates, and thus it is extremely common for distributors to supply a cut version with a lower certificate so that the film can be distributed by mail order or Internet. Almost all major online distributors have declined to distribute FSK 18 or Keine Jugendfreigabe films due to the legal difficulties in the past. Shopping centers, malls have been selling films with this certificate since 2002. Amazon Germany started selling titles with this certification in November 2006. Many smaller online retailers provide an FSK 18 section which may be accessed only by sending a scanned copy of the buyer's identification card or providing the ID card's number (which includes the date of birth encoded). The legality of this practice, however, is as yet untested. In September 2006, became the first major retailer to provide FSK 18 rated films, by making use of an ID checking service offered by the German postal service.

Before 2003, state prosecutors were able to confiscate FSK18 titles to put them on the index or ban them completely from distribution. Thus, many sellers were put off from selling these titles in the first place and instead sold the cut versions that usually carried the FSK16-tag. Under the new law of 2003, however, movies with an FSK18 certificate can no longer be confiscated or put on the index. The FSK may refuse to give an FSK18-tag because it deems the material too violent and/or sexually charged to even grant it an FSK-18 certificate. The distributor may then resubmit a cut version or refer it to the Juristenkommission for a certificate attesting that the film does not violate applicable law. Or distribute it completely unrated, which is equally limited as distributing a film listed on the "Index" – sublist A.


Any movies that will be shown in Greek movie theatres, whether local or foreign, must be classified. There are four ratings for movies shown in Greece and they are:

  • K – Suitable film for everyone, including children. The film does not contain violence, drug abuse, or sexual content.
  • K-13 – Suitable film for children over the age of 13. The film may contain mild violence and adult themes.
  • K-17 – Suitable film for adults over the age of 17. The film may contain violence, drug abuse, and mild pornographic scenes. An ID card certifying the age is required in all Greek cinemas and DVD rental shops in order to get a cinema ticket or rent a DVD of a "K-17" rated film. This category is legally restricted.
  • E – Exempt

Hong Kong

An official government agency issues ratings for any movie that will be shown in Hong Kong movie theatres, instead of a private institution. They are:

  • I – suitable for all ages (circle sign)
  • IIA – some content is unsuitable for children; parental guidance suggested (square sign)
  • IIB – some content is unsuitable for children and young persons; parental guidance suggested (square sign)
  • III – for aged 18 and above only (triangle sign)

Of the four levels, Levels I, IIA, and IIB are unrestricted. Only Level III is a restricted category. Ticket sellers in movie theatres have a legal right to check the identity of a person who wishes to watch a Level III film to ensure legal compliance.


Hungarian ratings are decided by the Rating Committee of the National Office of Film[6]:

  • KN – suitable for all (category I.)
  • 6 – not suitable for childen under 6.(category II.)
  • 12 – not suitable for children under 12. (category III.)
  • 16 – not suitable for children under 16. (category IV.)
  • 18 – not suitable for people under 18. (category V.)
  • X – only for adults (category VI.)

Before 2004, there was 14 instead of 12, and there was not any fifth category.


SmáÍs movie rating labele

Kvikmyndaeftirlit Ríkisins was started in 1932 and ran until 1997. That year the name changed into Kvikmyndaskoðun and ran until 2006. Since 1997 the board does not edit movies. The old rating system from Kvikmyndaeftirlit Ríkisins and Kvikmyndaskoðun is still valid and is as follows:

  • L: Suitable for all
  • LH: Not suitable for very young viewers (video only) replaced by 7
  • 10: Passed only for children 10 and older (theatrical only) replaced by 7
  • 12: Passed only for children 12 and older
  • 14: Passed only for children 14 and older (theatrical only)
  • 16: Passed only for children 16 and older
  • AB: Banned (1932–1997) replaced by 18

From July 1, 2006 Kvikmyndaskoðun was closed and Smáís has taken over the responsibility of rating systems in Iceland. Simultaneously, a new rating system started and is as following:

  • L: Suitable for all
  • 7: Passed only for 7 and older
  • 12: Passed only for 12 and older
  • 14: Passed only for 14 and older
  • 16: Passed only for 16 and older
  • 18: Passed only for 18 and older

Certain films that have been rated as "LH" or "10" under the old system have been re-rated as "7".


Sample Censor certificate issued by Indian Censor Board that appears just before the beginning of a film. "V/U" implies that the film is sanctioned for video exhibition and given a rating of Unrestricted Public Exhibition.

In India, Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is responsible for certifying films meant for public exhibition.

The Censor Board presently gives four categories of certificates, namely,

  • U: Unrestricted Public Exhibition throughout India,
  • U/A: Unrestricted public exhibition with parental guidance for children below the age of 12
  • A: Public exhibition restricted to adults above 18 years only,
  • S: Exhibition to restricted audience such as doctors etc.

Additionally, V/U, V/A are used for video releases with U and A carrying the same meaning as above.


Motion pictures shown in Indonesia must undergo reviewing by the Indonesian Film Censor Board (Lembaga Sensor Film). Other than issuing certificates, the LSF also reviews and issues permits for film-related advertising, such as movie trailers and posters. LSF has the authority to cut scenes from films. Certificates are issued based on the following categories:

  • SU (Semua Umur): All ages
  • A (Anak-anak): Children (3–12 years)
  • BO-A (Bimbingan Orangtua-Anak-anak): Parental Guidance-Children
  • BO (Bimbingan Orangtua): Parental Guidance (parental supervision is recommended for persons under 13 years)
  • BO-SU (Bimbingan Orangtua-semua-umur): Parental Guidance-All Ages
  • R (Remaja): Teen (All ages admitted years and over)
  • D (Dewasa): Adult (All ages admitted and over)


The Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) under which theatrical films are placed into one of the following categories:

  • GGeneral – Suitable for viewing by anyone.
  • PGParental Guidance – Parental guidance is recommended for children under the age of 12.
  • 12AParental Guidance required for children under 12 – A person over 18 years of age must accompany a child under the age of 12 when seeing a film theatrically. Prior to 2004 this used to be 12PG.
  • 15AParental Guidance required for children under 15 – A person over 18 years of age must accompany a child under the age of 15 when seeing a film theatrically. Prior to 2004 this used to be 15PG.
  • 16 – Films classified in this category are considered to be suitable for persons of sixteen or over. Children under this age cannot be admitted to screenings. Violent content, crude and sexual content, and depiction of violence may be stronger than in films designated 15A. Introduced in 2004.
  • 18Adults only – The film is suitable only for adults. Nobody under this age can be admitted. 9 Songs in October 2004 became the first film featuring explicit sex scenes to receive a certificate.

Films without certification are not ipso facto banned and have been shown at film festivals and arthouse clubs such as the Irish Film Institute.

For video releases (VHS and DVD), categories G, PG and 18 share the same meanings as above, however, there is no 16, and categories 12 and 15 are mandatory, not advisory.

There used to be an additional category, 12RA, for video releases. This means that children under 12 can watch the video however an adult of at least 18 years old must accompany him/her. This is an extremely rarely used rating.

Due to there not being a "16" classification for home media it the movie is sometimes cut on the video version in order to meet the guidelines of the "15" classification.

All videos and DVDs (except for exempt videos such as music videos and educational material) must be submitted for classification by the IFCO and then displayed on the front of the packaging, the back of the packaging and on the individual discs.

The rating of a movie may be appealed up to six months after the release of a film. After this period expires the same uncut film is not allowed to be appealed until at least seven years after the release.

Originally, IFCO used to ban far more films, however they still occasionally ban films (i.e. Boy Eats Girl was banned due to a suicide attempt but was appealed and was re-rated as 15A).


It was enforced since 1963 and all films aimed to be shown in Italy are classified into one of the following categories by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities:

  • T: All ages admitted. The mark is a circle with a huge T inside on a green background.
  • V.M.14: Nobody under the age of 14 years is allowed, parental guidance is strongly advised. The movie is likely to contain either sexual content, violence and some drug use. The mark is a circle with a 14 inside on an orange background.
  • V.M.18: Nobody under the age of 18 years is allowed, for older audiences only. The movie is likely to contain very explicit and strong sexual content, strong and/or extreme violence and gore or really explicit drug use. The mark is a circle with an 18 inside on a red or bordeaux background.

In the past, pornographic or disturbing movies like Deep Throat and Last Summer were given a special X rating, but this rating does not take part of the official censorship and is used today only for pornographic videos. Some films were even banned for their extreme pornographic contents, disturbing violence or for their political connotation. For example were banned Freaks, Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom and Cannibal Holocaust, although these bans were lifted after. Few films like Last Tango in Paris were even sentenced to be burnt at the stake. The laws which allow such bans are still in force today, although have fallen into disuse.


A Japanese film rating regulator known as Eirin (映倫?) (full-name: Eiga Rinri Kanri Iinkai (映画倫理管理委員会?)) has a film classification system under which films are classified into one of the following categories:

  • G: General audiences, all ages admitted.
  • PG-12: Some material may be inappropriate for children under the age of 12. Parental or adult accompaniment recommended. The film contains mature themes, partial nudity, explicit language, some violence, etc. which is inappropriate for people under 12.
  • R15+: No children under 15 admitted. The film contains adult themes, nudity, explicit language, violence, sexual situations, etc. which is inappropriate for people under 15.
  • R18+: No children under 18 admitted. The film contains adult themes, detailed violence, explicit sex, sexual violence, pornographic content, drug use, etc. which is inappropriate for people under 18.


In Latvia, the film presenters added classification is the same as the one applied by the producers of the film. However, this could change from 2008, because in July 2007 the government of Latvia made a law that indicates a more strict classification policy. The classifications are approved by the National Cinema Center (Latvian: Nacionālais Kino Centrs). There is a new 'refreshed' rating system from July 2007. (The following classifications will operate as of September 2007)

  • U: rated for all ages (added in July 2007).
  • 7+: Not recommended for viewers younger than 7.
  • 12+: Not recommended for viewers younger than 12.
  • 16+: Not recommended for viewers younger than 16.
  • 18+ (blue): Not recommended for minors.
  • 18+ (red): Prohibited from viewing by minors.


Malaysia's motion picture rating system was introduced in 1996. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, all films in Malaysia, whether local or foreign, are scrutinised and then categorised by the Film Censorship Board Film Control Division before being distributed and screened to the public. The board was established under the Film Censorship Act 1952 and was later replaced by the Film Censorship Act 2002. In accordance to this act, the Film Censorship Board is appointed by the Minister of Home Affairs. A panel is then appointed by the chairman of the board to view each film.

Once the film is viewed, the board then categorises the film as follows:

  • Approved
    • Passed Clean (i.e. without cuts) (Lulus Bersih) (in this case the movie distributor can place "No Cuts!" on the film's advertisement.)
    • Passed with Cuts (Lulus Dengan Potongan) (usually should the content of a scene is deemed inappropriate for screening by the Board. Usually these are nudity and/or sex scenes which are extended and/or irrelevant to the film's plot.)
  • Not Approved
    • Forbidden (Haram) (Equivalent to "Refused Classification", these films are banned from being screened or sold in Malaysia)
    • Rejected (Ditolak) (Application was refused without viewing the film in question)

Should a film be approved, the Board then assigns one of the following rating to it:

  • U (Umum, literally General Audiences) – For general audiences. (Triangular sign)
  • PG-13 – Children under 13 not admitted unless accompanied by an adult. Film may contain scenes that are inappropriate for younger children. This classification was introduced in 2007. Examples include The Dark Knight. (Circle with a horizontal line in the middle through its diameter)
  • 18 – This film is for aged 18 years and above only. No people under this age will be admitted. Film may contain adult themes, explicit scenes, mature content, nudity, strong language, and/or sex, etc. Shutter Island and Fire of Conscience are two of the first movies to be classified under this rating. This rating is used for 18+ movies released after 14 April 2010. Any 18+ movies shown in cinemas after that date will be classified as 18. The rating still uses the circle sign that the previous ratings 18SG, 18SX, 18PA and 18PL used. Any movies previously classified using the old 18+ ratings will now be re-classified as 18. However, video classification that still rated as the previous 18+ ratings is still valid.

Categories U and PG-13 are unrestricted, only 18 is a restricted category.

Prior to April 2010, there were four 18+ classification with two letters added, however, it has been abolished due to direction by the Film Censorship Board. The ratings are listed below:

  • 18SG (Seram, Ganas, literally Graphic Violence and Horror/Terror) – Film contains strong violence, gore or horror/terror that people may find objectionable.
  • 18SX (Seks, literally Sexual Content) – Film contains sex scenes, nudity and/or sexual dialogues/references that people may find objectionable.
  • 18PA (Politik, Agama, literally Strong Religious or Political Elements) – Film contains elements which include religious, social or political aspects that people may find objectionable.
  • 18PL (Pelbagai, literally Variety) – Film may contain strong violence, gore, horror/terror, sex scenes, nudity, sexual dialogues/references, religious, social and/or political aspects people may find objectionable. (Example: A film with strong violence and sexual references will be classified as 18PL).

18+ rated films require an accompanying adult for underaged patrons, though cinemas reserve the right to refuse sale or deny admission to underages even with adult accompaniment as they see fit or needed.

All film and cinema advertisements in newspapers must clearly show the classification for a movie. For clarity reasons, cinema schedules in local newspapers only state the movie's rating if it is not rated as "U". All three ratings in use also cover other types of films (e.g. direct-to-video, documentaries, etc.) not released in cinemas.

Due to piracy of music CDs and DVD/VCDs in Malaysia, all original musical works or movies on any format are required to have a hologram sticker with the words "Tulen KPDN & HEP Original". For films, a movie certification sticker by the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia (Lembaga Penapisan Filem Malaysia) bearing the signature of the director and the words "Pengerusi Lembaga Penapisan Filem Malaysia", a serial number and the films classification is required before it can be sold.


With the formation of National Bureau of Classification on December 29, 2005, a new classification regulation and a new rating system for movies were introduced. A classification certificate must be obtained first, before a movie or a movie-related production is released for commercial use including its trailers. NBC has the authority to cut scenes from movies. Classification certificates issued are based on the following categories:

New NBC film ratings.jpg

  • G – General viewing. No material that may evoke fear or concern, no violence, no sexual acts, no language, no drug abuse, no nudity.
  • PG – Parental Guidance. No material that may evoke fear or concern, no violence, no sexual acts, no language, no drug abuse, no nudity. However, viewing films of this category requires parental guidance. This rating is rarely used.
  • 12+ – For viewers aged 12 and above. Mild violence, no sexual acts, infrequent harsh language, light drug abuse in productions that target this age group.
  • 15+ – For viewers aged 15 and above. Moderate violence, no sexual acts, some harsh language, moderate drug abuse.
  • 18+ – For viewers aged 18 and above. Strong violence, sexual scenes, harsh language, strong drug abuse, veiled nudity.
  • 18+R – 18+ and Restricted. High level violence, sexual scenes, harsh language, strong drug abuse, veiled nudity. Contents of this category may be inappropriate for some individuals.
  • PU – Released for PROFESSIONAL USE ONLY and is not classified for commercial use. Violence, nudity, sex scenes and strong language are released for educational, artistic and intellectual purposes under this category.

Frontal nudity and sex scenes are censored. Pornography is banned.


In Malta, the vast majority of motion pictures do not receive a separate release/distribution, which means that local distributors import DVDs and Blu-ray Discs that bear classifications appointed in other countries: mainly, Great Britain and the United States. Motion picture consumers, therefore, refer to the BBFC, or its North American counterpart, for viewership guidance. Where public viewing is concerned, however, by rule of law, distributors must submit motion pictures to be shown in cinemas, for example, or for theatre reproduction, to a Government-appointed Board of Film and Stage Classification, which classifies productions in one of the following criteria:

  • U (Universal) – Suitable for all.
  • PG (Parental Guidance) – Some material may be unsuitable for younger children. Children under the age of 12 are to be accompanied by an adult.
  • 12 – Suitable only for persons 12 years and older. Nobody under this age will be admitted.
  • 14 – Suitable only for persons 14 years and older. Nobody under this age will be admitted.
  • 16 – Suitable only for persons 16 years and older. Nobody under this age will be admitted.
  • 18 – Suitable only for persons 18 years and older. Nobody under this age will be admitted.
  • Banned – As a final resort, there are instances in which a few motion pictures as well as theatre productions have been banned from public viewing. This ban also extends to hardcore as well as softcore pornographic material, which remains illegal in the country as of 2010.

Naturally, since Maltese authorities regulate only public viewing material, it remains possible to acquire a film that the Board of Film and Stage Classification have classified as Banned at a DVD/Blu-ray disk shop, provided the shop imports from countries where the film has not been denied distribution, or is otherwise restricted. One example of such a film, available at local DVD shops yet banned for public viewing at the nation's cinemas, is Ken Park.

In spite of the widespread importation practices described above, pornographic material generally remains unavailable at local shops.

Unlike the BBFC, the Board of Film and Stage Classification does not cut motion pictures per se: the last motion picture cut, a brutal religious drama that was similarly classified as prohibited in Sweden, was heavily edited for viewership in 1985. The film, left largely unintelligible, garnered a negative response from the public, which led authorities to abandon their practice of tampering with films. Due in part to this reluctance, the possibility of having a film banned for public viewing in Malta is perhaps slightly greater than it is elsewhere, although changes in Maltese society, and the church's ever-diminishing loss of clout, have allowed, in this regard, for a tolerant environment that mirrors the practices of other European countries.


The General Directorate of Radio, Television and Cinematography (in Spanish, Dirección General de Radio, Televisión y Cinematografía, or RTC[2]) is the issuer of ratings for television programs (although only one channel in Mexico explicitly shows the classification on each program, XEIMT-TV in Mexico City) and motion pictures. The RTC is a dependency of the Department of State (Secretaría de Gobernación). It has its own classification system, as follows:

  • AA Informative-only rating: Specially suited for the interests of children under 7. This rating is usually seen in conjunction with animated TV shows or movies aimed at children. TV shows and movies under this rating have little to no violence, offensive language, and/or drug abuse. Sexual content is limited to mild affection and/or platonic friendship.
  • A Informative-only rating: General Audience. Suited for persons ages 7–11. Minimum or no violence, sexual or drug use content.
  • B Informative-only rating: For children 12 or over. Parental guidance suggested. Minimum and specifically motivated non-extreme violence. Sex can be shown, so long as it's implied. Nudity might be present, but not in an erotic or degrading manner. Drug use can be referenced, but actual consumption and any scenes condoning or glorifying drug abuse are prohibited. Language may be dirty, but no verbal violence.
  • B-15 Informative-only rating: For children 15 or over. More explicit content than B rating, but extreme violence, explicit sexual content, drug abuse (or scenes of drugs being glorified), and verbal violence is still prohibited.
  • C Restrictive rating: For adults over 18. High degree of violence (including cruelty), sexual content, and/or drug abuse/references. Verbal violence and offensive language is permitted, but only for narrative purposes.
  • D Restrictive rating: Adults-only. Commonly known as X-rated. May contain strong sexual situations, explicit language, and extreme violence.


In the Netherlands, the Kijkwijzer system is used, which is executed by the NICAM.


  • AL Suitable for all ages (in Dutch: Alle Leeftijden).
  • 6 Not recommended for children younger than 6 years. Replaced the older MG6 ("Meekijken Gewenst"), where parental guidance was recommended for viewers younger than 6 years.
  • 9 Not recommended for children younger than 9 years. Now a standard rating. First used for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban because of very frightening elements.
  • 12 Not recommended for children younger than 12 years; broadcasting is not allowed before 20:00 (8:00 p.m.).


  • 16 Not recommended for children younger than 16 years; hence, according to Wetboek van Strafrecht art. 240A, it is forbidden to admit such a person to a screening, or rent out, sell, or give the movie (DVD, video, computer file, etc.) to such a person; broadcasting is not allowed before 22:00 (10:00 p.m.).

Mostly, these icons are used along with other symbols, displaying if a movie contains violence, sexual content, frightening scenes, drug or alcohol abuse, discrimination, or coarse language.

These symbols are also used for TV-programs in the Netherlands. The TV channel mostly chooses for Black / White. But Nickelodeon uses: Orange / White (Except TeenNick (Evening Block): Black / White.), Disney Channel uses: Blue / Purple, Disney XD uses: Green / Black.

New Zealand

New Zealand Ratings

The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 gives the Office of Film and Literature Classification (New Zealand) the power to classify publications into three categories: unrestricted, restricted, or "objectionable". With a few exceptions, films, videos, DVDs and restricted computer games must carry a label before being offered for supply or exhibited to the public.

The currently available unrestricted ratings are:

  •  G  Suitable for general audiences.
  •  PG  Parental guidance may be needed for younger viewers.
  •  M  Suitable for mature audiences 16 years and over.

The most common restricted ratings are:

  •  R13  Restricted to persons 13 years and over.
  •  R16  Restricted to persons 16 years and over.
  •  R18  Restricted to persons 18 years and over.

The least common restricted ratings are:

  •  R15  Restricted to persons 15 years and over.
  •  RP13  Children under age 13 not admitted unless accompanied by an adult.
  •  RP16  Children under age 16 not admitted unless accompanied by an adult.
  •  R  Restricted to a certain audience.

Under New Zealand law it is possible for the New Zealand Film and Video Labelling Body to give an unrestricted rating to a film if it has been given an unrestricted rating by either the Australian Classification Board in Australia or, if the Australian Board has not reviewed it, the British Board of Film Classification, and it is not likely to be restricted under New Zealand censorship law. If a film has received a restricted rating (of at least 15+) in either Australia or the UK it must be classified by the OFLC.

The OFLC may restrict a film to a certain audience, either by age or by purpose. The Office can assign any age restriction, but R13, R16 and R18 are most commonly used, with R15 used less often. Persons under the age restriction may not see the film under any circumstance, even with parental consent. However, the Office may assign an RP rating (i.e. RP13 or RP16) which allows children under the age of classification to see the film with an accompanying parent or adult guardian.

The Office may also restrict a film to a certain purpose, in which case the R rating is used. The film is considered objectionable unless the conditions of the restriction are met. This may mean that a film is limited to viewing for study or research purposes, theatrical release, or for screening at film festivals. For instance, the film Irréversible is classified R18, but with additional restrictions limiting it to "the purposes of theatrical exhibition or study in tertiary institutions only".


The National Film and Video Censors Board classifies films, videos, DVDs, and VCDs. The categories are:

  • G: General admittance.
  • PG: Parental Guidance suggested.
  • 12: Suitable for children aged 12 years and older.
  • 12A: Same as 12, but younger children can be admitted if accompanied.
  • 15: Suitable for children aged 15 years and older.
  • 18: Suitable for people aged 18 years and older.
  • RE: Restricted Exhibition: can be shown only subject to certain restrictions.


In Norway all movies have to be registered by the Norwegian Media Authority (Medietilsynet, formerly Filmtilsynet), a government agency, to be exhibited commercially. Though if distributors wish, they can just register the movie with the agency without any need for approval, but the distributor is then obligated not to admit anyone under the age of 18. The distributor is also responsible that the movie does not violate Norwegian law (only applies to movies with "degrading hardcore sexual content").

Movies are rated using the following classifications:

  • A (all ages)
  • 7
  • 11
  • 15
  • 18

Films rated 7, 11 or 15 may also be seen by children accompanied by a parent or adult guardian if the child has turned 4, 8 or 11 years, respectively. In addition to the ratings, the board indicates if a movie is suitable for children, families, youths or adults. A film may be given a rating even though it is intended for an older age group, e.g. an "A" film might be intended for adults if it does not contain material unsuitable for young children. The Norwegian Media Authority have a somewhat greater tolerance for bad language and suggestive content than certain other countries, therefore films rated PG-13 in USA, might be given '7+' or the 'Suitable for all' rating. Examples are The Simpsons Movie or Step Up.

The board also indicates if a rating is "hard". A "hard" 11/15 rating is usually indicated by the text "not advised for children/youths under 11/15" ("frarådes barn/ungdom under 11/15 år"), however this does not affect if children under the given age are allowed to see the film if accompanied. In 2000 a Board of Appeal was established. Prior to this the ratings board could choose to reclassify a film.


In Pakistan all films are applied to Central Board of Film Censors

  • No Sign:Suitable For Everyone
  • UR:Unrated
  • PG:Parental Guidance Required
  • PG-13:Parental Guidance For Under 13
  • R or AO:18+
  • X:Pornographic Content


The motion picture rating system for movies shown in Peruvian movie theatres are:

  • Apt General audiences. All ages are admitted.
  • 14 Intense violence and language. No children under 14 admitted without the company of an adult.
  • 18 Extreme graphic violence, language and drug abuse. This rating also extends to pornography films. No children under 18 admitted without the company of an adult.


In the Philippines, motion pictures are rated by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, a special agency of the Office of the President. Television programmes are also rated (see the article).

There are five ratings currently in use. These are:

Level Classification rating Description
Unrestricted G or GP All ages admitted.
PG-13 Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult.
Restricted R-13 Strictly for persons 13 years and over.
R-18 Strictly for persons 18 years and over.
X Not for public viewing.
Discontinued R Strictly for persons 17 years old and over. If this exists until nowadays, it will scope the modern day ratings R-13 and R-18.
PG-7 Parental guidance for children below seven years old. If this exists until nowadays, it would be between the modern-day ratings G and PG-13.


Polish television rating certificates.

Ratings in Poland are not set by any board or advisory body, but it rather depends on distribution company, cinema or television station. In case of television, the supervisory body – Krajowa Rada Radiofonii i Telewizji (KRRiT, The National Council of Radio Broadcasting and Television) can impose fines upon those responsible for improper rating of a broadcast, or lack of it.

  • Rating for movies shown in cinemas:
    • AL (All) – Suitable for everyone
    • 7 – Suitable for children 7 years and older (this rating is not considered 'official', but it's used by some cinemas. Other variations include '6', '8', '9' or '10')
    • 12 – Suitable for children 12 years and older
    • 15 – Suitable for children 15 years and older
    • AP – (Adult Persons) Only for adults
    • 21 – [EMERGENCY RATING] Only for adults, contains graphic and "unnecessary" violence; only a few movies have been rated 21 (namely Irréversible, Le Dobermann, Caligula, and Baise-Moi).
  • Ratings for programmes and movies shown on television:
    • Green circle – for everyone
    • Yellow triangle – age indicated in triangle (7, 12, 16)
    • Red circle – for adults (18 years)


Movies are rated in Portugal by the Comissão de Classificação de Espectáculos of the Ministry of Culture. In cinemas the ratings are mandatory whereas for video releases they are merely advisory. The categories are the following:

  • M/4 Suitable for all audiences (however, in cinemas the minimum age for admission is 4). This is used mostly for movies and videos that are particularly recommended for young children.
  • M/6 Passed for viewers aged 6 and older. May have some mild content/foul language. This is also the lowest rating a subtitled movie can get.
  • M/12 Passed for viewers aged 12 and older. Younger viewers must be accompanied by an adult.
  • M/16 Passed for viewers aged 16 and older. Younger viewers must be accompanied by an adult.
  • M/18 Passed for viewers aged 18 and older. Younger viewers must be accompanied by an adult, although if they are too young the person responsible for admission into movie theaters can deny entrance.

Special classifications

These classifications can be added to the previous ones:

  • Pornographic (M/18-P) Generic characteristics: content is considered pornographic if it contains, cumulatively: a) exploitation of situations to try to arouse the spectator; b) low aesthetic quality. Specific characteristics: the first level (hardcore: content that presents a very thorough demonstration of real sexual acts being perpetrated, with the exhibition of genitalia); the second level (softcore: content that presents a very insistent and thorough demonstration of simulated sexual acts).
  • Quality (M/4-Q, M/6-Q, M/12-Q, M/16-Q, M/18-Q) Content that, due to its artistic, thematic, educational and technical aspects deserve this attribute.


National Audiovisual Council of Romania rating system:

  • A.P. Acordul părinţilor. (Parental guidance)
  • 12 Interzis copiilor sub 12 ani. (Forbidden under the age of 12)
  • 15 Nerecomandat copiilor sub 15 ani. (Not recommended under 15 years of age)
  • 18 Interzis minorilor sub 18 ani. (Forbidden under 18 years of age – white sign)
  • 18* Interzis minorilor sub 18 ani. (Not for under 18 years of age – contains pornographic images – red sign)



USSR had board of film classification:

  • Для любой зрительской аудитории (For all ages) – Suitable for all.
  • Для любой зрительской аудитории (за исключением некоторых сеансов) (For all ages except some films) – Suitable for all except some films.
  • Для лиц старше 16 лет (For people above 16 years) – Unsuitable for children under 16 years

It was canceled. In 2001 was added two ratings (12 and 18) and in 2005 was added rating 14.

Action board of classification

  • Фильм разрешён для показа в любой зрительской аудитории (Film allowed for any age) – All ages are admitted. No age restrictions.
  • Детям до 12 лет фильм разрешён в сопровождении родителей (Film allowed for children under 12 if they accompanied by parents) – Parental guidance under 12 years.
  • Фильм разрешён детям, достигшим 14 лет (Film for children above 14) – Unsuitable for children under 14. Film has adult topics.
  • Фильм разрешён детям старше 16 лет (Film for children above 16) – Unsuitable for children under 16. Film has violence, fear or excessive bloodshed.
  • Фильм разрешён детям старше 18 лет (Film for children above 18) – Unsuitable for children under 18. Film has discrimination, violence or bare bodies.
  • Фильмы, которым отказано в классификации (Refused Classification) – Banned.


The revised film rating system which took effect from 15th July 2011

Introduced in July 1991. Movies in Singapore are rated by Media Development Authority. The categories are:

  • G General – Suitable for all ages. This category is rarely used except mainly for animated films.
  • PG Parental Guidance – Suitable for all ages, but should provide guidance to their young. This is the most common rating for movies and video releases in Singapore for years.
  • PG13 Parental Guidance 13 – Introduced since 15 July 2011, this is an advisory rating that falls between PG and NC16. The rating will also be extended to free-to-air television for broadcasting after 10pm.
  • NC16 No Children Under 16 – For persons 16 years and above. (Note: The first film to be rated NC16 was Saving Private Ryan, which could not be passed as a PG film due to the violence present in the film, but lacked an adult theme to be rated R(A))
  • M18 Mature 18 – For persons 18 years and above. It was introduced in 2004.
  • R21 Restricted 21 – For persons 21 years and above only (formerly known as R(A),Restricted (Adult)). Films under this category are excluded from screening in residential areas, television advertisements and video releases.

Orange rectangles are restricted ratings whereas green circles are general ratings. The rating PG13 is a new rating.

G, have no restriction on age and all audiences are allowed admission. Regulation on the presence of adults for PG and PG13 rated shows are advised but not strictly enforced. NC16, M18 and R21 groups are restricted to persons of the specified age or above of the particular group. Even if accompanied by a parent or guardian, no person under the specified age may be admitted; cinemas are legally obligated to check the identity document of every patron attending a film with a restricted rating.

South Africa

South African ratings are issued, certified and regulated by the Film and Publication Board. All broadcasters, cinemas and distributors of DVD/video and computer games must comply with the following:

  • G – This is a film that does not contain any obscenity, and is suitable for family viewing.
  • PG – Parental guidance recommended for younger children. Low impact classifiable elements.[7]
  • 10M – Children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult.[7]
  • 10 – Viewers must be 10 or older.[7]
  • 13 – Children under the age of 13 are prohibited from watching this film. This program contains mild language, violence and sexual innuendo.
  • 16 – Children under the age of 16 are prohibited from watching this film. This program contains moderate violence, language, and some sexual situations.
  • R18 – Children under the age of 18 are prohibited from watching this film. This program contains explicit/prolonged violence, language and/or graphic sexual content. The R18 rating does not refer to pornography, as this is banned on television and cinema by the Film and Publication Board.
  • X18 – this is reserved for films of an extreme sexual nature (pornography). X18 films may be distributed only in the form of video/DVD and in a controlled environment (e.g. Adult Shops). No public viewing of this film may take place. X18 films may not be broadcast on television or in cinemas. The X18 rating does not refer to child or animal pornography, as this is illegal in South Africa.

Additional symbols indicate the reasons for ratings:

  • Violence
  • Nudity
  • Sex
  • Language
  • Prejudice
  • Drugs

If a member of the public or a Film and Publication Board Official finds that a Cinema or a Film Distributor is allowing under-aged children to view prohibited material, the accused may be liable for a hefty fine and/or closure of that specific establishment. Proof of age is required of anybody who wants to buy/rent R18 material.

The Film and Publication Board has the discretion and right to ban any film it deems unworthy of public exhibition.

South Korea

The Korea Media Rating Board (영상물등급위원회) in Seoul divides licensed films into the following categories:

  • All (전체관람가) – Suitable for all audiences
  • 12+ (12세 이상 관람가) – Suitable for children 12 and older (parental supervision is recommended for persons under 12 years)
  • 15+ (15세 이상 관람가) – Suitable for children 15 and older (parental supervision is recommended for persons under 15 years)
  • Teenager restricted (청소년 관람불가) – Suitable for adults 18 and older

A Restricted rating (제한상영가) was introduced in 2002. Films with this rating were restricted to adults over 19, could only be shown in specially licensed theaters, and could not be advertised or released on home video. The rating was ruled unconstitutional in 2009 after a challenge from the local distributor of Shortbus.[8]


Attitudes toward film censorship in Spain are unusual due to the adverse affect of dictatorship and heavy censorship until 1975 under General Francisco Franco. Therefore, most Spanish citizens are against censorship of any kind and prefer personal responsibility and liberalism, thus very few people show serious respect for certification of films. For example, cinemas in Spain never ask for identification.[citation needed]

  • APTA – Suitable for all audiences
  • Especialmente Recomendada para la Infancia – Especially suitable for small children
  • 7 – Suitable for audiences 7 and older
  • 12 – Suitable for audiences 12 and older
  • 16 – Suitable for audiences 16 and older
  • 18 – Suitable for audiences 18 and older
  • Película X – Pornographic movie, violence apology.

Films with the Película X rating are only allowed in eight theaters in Spain. In 2009, Saw VI was the first film to be classified "Película X" solely for its violent content. Buena Vista, the distributor, unsuccessfully appealed the decision.[9][10] The film achieved wider release in October 2010, after edits were made to achieve an "18" rating.


Statens medieråd (the Swedish Media Council)[11] was founded January 1, 2011, when the former Statens biografbyrå (National Board of Film Classification) merged with Medierådet (formerly also called The Swedish Media Council). The Media Council is a government agency with the aims to reduce the risk of harmful media influences among minors and to empower minors as conscious media users.

The task of the Swedish Media Council’s film classification[12] is to determine whether films are liable to harm the well-being of children in different age groups.

The Swedish age classifications are not to be regarded as recommendations of suitability for children, but relate only to the risk of harm to children’s well-being according to the law SFS 2010:1882.[13]

The examination of the Swedish Media Council focus on violence and do not take into account the religious, political or moral attitude of films. Nor do they act as an arbiter of taste. Every film is classified in its own unique context and the age ratings are based on expertise and experience. The rating is not mainly based on parental taste, in opposite to the USA.

Only a very limited amount of violence is allowed in films for very young children. The classification process also includes assessments of film sequences that may have a terrifying effect on young children, including films and sequences that are difficult for children to understand and liable to cause confusion and fear. Since cinema films in most cases are subtitled and not dubbed in Sweden, the possibility for children to read the subtitles is sometimes an issue.

Films do not have to be submitted for classification if they are screened for audiences over the age of 15, or not intended for public viewing. However, this is the practice: when a film is rated, it can not be considered to violate any laws regarding its content. It is a criminal offense to hire or sell videos containing unlawful depictions of violence, thus meaning that the distributor could be held responsible for the content of a film if unrated. It is illegal also to rent or sell videos depicting realistic violence to children below the age of 15.

The censors, scientific professionals in the field of behavioural sciences, are contracted for a term of two years (so that they do not become habituated) and rate films so that they are not harmful in any psychological or behavioral sense for a certain age group – and not if the film is suitable for the age group, a common misconception. Violence is seen as far more socially disruptive than consensual sexual acts, nudity or strong language, which is generally looked at more liberally than violence. This can have the effect that some PG or PG-13 rated films in USA are being rated "15 years" in Sweden for violence, while some films getting an R in USA for containing profanity or depictions of sexuality are rated at 7 or 11 years, or even for all audiences. (For example, The King's Speech was allowed for all audiences in Sweden and R-rated in the United States for profanity).

The censorship of films for adults (over 15 years) was abolished January 1, 2011.

The following categories are used:

  • Btl (Barntillåten = Children allowed) – Suitable for all ages.
  • 7 – Deemed non-harming for children of at least 7 years of age. Younger children are admitted if accompanied by an adult 18 or older.
  • 11 – Deemed non-harming for children of at least 11 years of age. Children of at least 7 years of age are admitted if accompanied by an adult 18 or older.
  • 15 – Not rated, means that no one under 15 years of age is admitted, may include strong violence, strong drug use, explicit depictions of sexual activity. This also includes pornography; however, that is usually not shown at ordinary cinemas.

Videos and DVDs are not rated by Statens medieråd,[14] but distributors will usually assign unofficial recommendations with the same age limits as the official ratings.

There are unofficial ratings used by some television channels, rental shops and adult cinemas to hinder persons below the age of 18 years to be exposed to pornography, such as Barnförbjuden ("prohibited for minors"), 18 År ("18 years") and Vuxenfilm ("movies for adults").


Switzerland is composed of 26 cantons, each having their own rating system. The entries below are examples for the cantons of Vaud and Geneva.

  • 0 – Universal. Suitable for all
  • 7 – No one under the age of 7 admitted
  • 10 – No one under the age of 10 admitted
  • 12 – No one under the age of 12 admitted
  • 14 – No one under the age of 14 admitted
  • 16 – No one under the age of 16 admitted
  • 18 – No one under the age of 18 admitted

Republic of China (Taiwan)

Taiwan did not have motion picture rating system until April 1994. The GIO in Taiwan divides licensed films into one of the following four categories pursuant to its issued Regulations Governing the Classification of Motion Pictures of the Republic of China (電影片分級處理辦法 in traditional Chinese):

  • General audiences category (普遍級(普)) – General audiences are able to view. (green sign)
  • Protected category (保護級(護)) – Children under 6 years old are not allowed to view. Children aged at least 6 but less than 12 require guidance of accompanying parents, teachers, or adult relatives to view. (blue sign)
  • Parental guidance category (輔導級(輔)) – Children under 12 years old are not allowed to view. People aged at least 12 but less than 18 require attentive guidance of parents or teachers to view. (yellow sign)
  • Restricted category (限制級(限)) – People under 18 years old are not allowed to view. (red sign)

Film advertisements use a single Chinese character surrounded by a square to show the film's category. Television stations must clearly show a film's rating before the start, and after each commercial break.

Related and official link: Classifications of movies (in traditional Chinese)


Before the introduction of the rating system, films are subject to the 1930 Film Act, under which films must be viewed by the Board of Censors, which can then impose cuts on the films prior to release. The board is composed of members of the Royal Thai Police and the Ministry of Culture, with advisory roles from the Buddhist religion, educators and the medical community. Most cuts are made for sexual content, while acts of violence are typically left untouched.

A motion picture rating system was proposed in the Film and Video Act of 2007, and was passed on December 20, 2007 by the Thai military-appointed National Legislative Assembly. Under the law, the ratings, in effect since August 2009, are:

  • P – Promotional, film is educational and viewing is encouraged for all Thai people.
  • G – Suitable for general audiences.
  • 13+ – Films not suitable for viewers under 13 years old.
  • 15+ – Films not suitable for viewers under 15 years old.
  • 18+ – Films not suitable for viewers under 18 years old.
  • 20+ – Films not suitable for viewers under 20 years old.
  • Banned – Films that are not allowed to screen publicly in the Kingdom.

The draft law had been met with resistance from the film industry and independent filmmakers under the Free Thai Cinema Movement. Activists had hoped for a less-restrictive approach than the 1930 Film Act, but under the Film and Video Act, films are still be subject to censorship, or can be banned from release altogether if the film is deemed to "undermine or disrupt social order and moral decency, or might impact national security or the pride of the nation".

As of 2007, a supplementary law or ministerial regulation to implement the rating system was yet to be drafted, and the 1930 Film Act remained in place.[15][16][17][18]

Turks and Caicos Islands

The British colony of Turks and Caicos Islands has its own motion picture rating system which was unchanged since its installation in 1934.

Symbol Name Definition/Notes
U Universal Available to anyone who wishes to see the film
A Universal with caution May contain some scenes that may not be suitable for very young children.
AA Seven or over The person must be seven or over to see the film
X Eleven or over The person must be eleven or over to see the film
AA Thirteen or over The person must be thirteen or over to see the film
X Sixteen or over The person must be sixteen or over to see the film
AA Sixteen with privilege The person must be sixteen or over in order to see the film alone, but under 16s can be permitted if accompanied by a parent or guardian over the age of 18
X Eighteen The person must be eighteen or over to see the film

United Arab Emirates

The Ministry of Information and Culture of the United Arab Emirates rates all movies according to a set standard.

  • G (General Audience) – Suitable for all ages.
  • PG-13 – Under 13 not admitted unless accompanied by an individual over 13. Some material may not be suitable for children. Introduced early 2010.
  • PG-15 – Under 15 not admitted unless accompanied by an individual over 15. Some material may not be suitable for children.
  • 15+ – No persons under 15 admitted.
  • 18+ – No persons under 18 admitted.
  • Rarely used:
    • PG – Some material may not be suitable for children.
    • PG-18 – Under 18 not admitted unless accompanied by an individual over 18. Some material may not be suitable for children.


  • These ratings only apply to theatrical releases. For DVDs and video games, these are all imported from US, UK, Australia, India etc. with the approval of Ministry of Information and Culture. If disapproved, it will not be available in the country.
  • All pornographic movies are banned by law in the United Arab Emirates, and movies with pornographic scenes are edited to fit within the rating guidelines.
  • In October 2008, the Ministry of Information and Culture began requiring ID for films rated 15+ and 18+.
  • In early 2010, the rating PG-13 was silently introduced. Films that was supposed to be PG-13 but instead PG-15 (such as Avatar and Tooth Fairy) were changed into PG-13 and some films already shown as PG-15 were changed to PG-13 as well. However, some films that are PG-15 (such as The Bounty Hunter) are not changed.

United Kingdom

UK film classification certificates. Uc was retired in 2009
Main articles: British Board of Film Classification, History of British Film Certificates

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) rates both motion pictures and videos (and an increasing number of video games). The rating system was introduced in 1913 and, as of 1985, also rates videos. County authorities are ultimately responsible for film ratings for cinema showings in their area. County Councils often ignore the BBFC advised rating and rate films with another BBFC certificate in their county only, e.g.: the BBFC rates a film as 15 but the County council gives the film a 12A rating in their county. Rating certificates from the BBFC are not legally binding whereas those for videos are. British cinemas generally stick closely to the policy of ratings and a young person may often be asked for proof of age if deemed younger than the rating.

The current BBFC system is:

  • U (Universal) Suitable for all. (The board states that while they cannot predict what might upset a particular child, a 'U' film should be suitable for audiences aged 4 and older).
  • PG (Parental Guidance) General viewing but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children. (It is the board's policy that movies rated 'PG' should not disturb a child of about 8 years of age or older; however, parents are advised to consider whether the content may upset young or more sensitive children).
  • 12A (12 Accompanied/Advisory) Recommended for 12 years and older. People under 12 years must be accompanied by an adult. (Exclusively for cinema, '12A' was first implemented on The Bourne Identity and, contrary to popular belief, not on Spider-Man, which was first released months before, under the previously fully restrictive 12 certificate, and then immediately re-released to take advantage of the new guidelines).
  • 12 Recommended for 12 years and older. Nobody younger than 12 may rent or buy a '12' rated video. (Until 31 August 2002, this mandatory certificate used to apply to cinema exhibitions as well).
  • 15 Suitable only for 15 years and older. Nobody younger than 15 may see a '15' film in a cinema. Nobody younger than 15 may rent or buy a '15' rated video (these films may contain offensive or emotionally harrowing scenes or strong language and violence).
  • 18 Suitable only for adults. Nobody younger than 18 may see an '18' film in a cinema. Nobody younger than 18 may rent or buy an '18' rated video (These films may contain extreme gore/violence and/or sexually explicit content).
  • R18 (Restricted 18) To be shown only in specially licensed cinemas, or supplied only in licensed sex shops, and to adults that are older than 18 years old. (These films contain sexually explicit, pornographic content.)

The 12A, 12, 15, 18 and R18 categories are restricted, and it is against the law for anybody under the age given on the packaging.

Films may receive a different rating when released on DVD/video to that at the cinema. It is not unusual for certain films to be refused classification, effectively banning them from sale or exhibition in the UK. Sometimes compulsory cuts are made to films, such as cuts to sexual violence and animal cruelty. Any media which has been banned receives an 'R' certificate (Rejected).

Videos deemed by their distributors to be exempt under the Video Recordings Act 1984 (typically non-fiction content such as music videos, sporting highlights, fitness videos, nature films, etc.) may bear the mark E (for exempt), though this is not a rating and the BBFC does not maintain a symbol. The BBFC also provides ratings for video games which may be unsuitable for sale to young people or children (such as Grand Theft Auto). However, the majority of games are merely rated by the voluntary PEGI rating system, that replaced the ELSPA rating system. It is very rare for a video game to be banned in the United Kingdom, as many controversial games have been released under more recent and more lenient directorship at the organisation, although it has happened once to Manhunt 2.

Former ratings

The list of ratings that the BBFC either a. retired or b. replaced with another rating.

  • Uc Suitable for all but especially suitable for children under age 5. Used for video only. Retired in 2009.
  • A Some cinemas ruled that children must be accompanied by an adult. In 1970 the description was changed to "those over 5 years old admitted but those under age 14 are not recommended". The rating was replaced by PG in 1982.
  • AA Suitable only for 14 years and older. Nobody younger than 14 may see an 'AA' film in a cinema. The rating was replaced by 15 in 1982.
  • X Suitable only for adults. Nobody younger than 16 may see an 'X' film in a cinema. The age limit was raised to 18 in 1970. The rating was replaced by 18 in 1982.
  • H Some cinemas ruled that children under age 16 cannot be admitted. The rating was replaced by X in 1951.

United States

Prior to 1968, some large cities and states had public rating boards which determined whether films were suitable for display to the public in theatres. The United States Supreme Court in the case of Freedman v. Maryland 380 U.S. 51 (1965) effectively ended government operated rating boards when it decided that a rating board could only approve a film; it had no power to ban a film. A rating board must either approve a film within a reasonable time, or it would have to go to court to stop a film from being shown in theatres. Other court cases decided that since television stations are federally licensed, local rating boards have no jurisdiction over films shown on television. When the movie industry set up its own rating system, most state and local boards ceased operating.


In the United States, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), through the Classification and Rating Administration (CARA), issues ratings for movies. The system was instituted in November 1968 and is voluntary; however, most movie theater chains will not show unrated domestic films and most major studios have agreed to submit all titles for rating prior to theatrical release. Most films will have the MPAA insignia at the end of the closing credits. Earlier films that had full opening credits such as The Poseidon Adventure would bear the insignia in the opening.

The ratings (as of 2010) are:

  • G – General Audiences – All Ages Admitted. There is no content that would be objectionable to most parents. These films may contain beyond polite language but no swearing. As with violence it must be mild, if any, without any blood or gore. This is one of only two ratings dating back to 1968 that still exists today.
  • PG – Parental Guidance Suggested – Some Material May Not Be Suitable For Children. These films are generally appropriate for children age 10 and older and may contain milder swear words, brief smoking, crude or suggestive humor, short and infrequent horror moments and/or mild violence. Usually no drug use is acceptable in this category. Topless men may be present but topless women are not usually acceptable unless in an educational or scientific context or if the nudity is only shown briefly. A few racial insults may also be heard. Before the creation of PG-13, many "PG" films (e.g. Jaws and Watership Down) included explicit bloody violence. Content such as this helped lead to the creation of the "PG-13" rating.
  • PG-13 – Parents Strongly Cautioned – Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13. These films may contain sex references, up to four uses of explicit language, drug innuendo, strong crude/suggestive humor, mature/political themes, moderately long horror moments and/or moderate action violence. There are usually no restrictions on non-sexual nudity. However, extreme bloodshed is rarely present. This is the minimum rating at which drug content is present; with the exception of Austin Powers and Click. Marijuana smoking is the only illegal drug use that can be depicted in a PG-13 film, with the exception of Forrest Gump, in which a brief scene depicts an actress snorting cocaine. While PG-13 films usually have more profanity than PG films, this is not necessarily the case. A film that is given a PG-13 rating due to profane language and/or racial insults is given this rating because it contains more of these elements than a PG rating would permit, or the film contains uses of stronger profanities than a PG would permit. A film rated PG-13 for "intense violence" is given this rating if blood is present in a violent way. The films Gremlins and Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom are well known as the movies that PG-13 was created for. In recent years, this rating has been used for the majority of American films released. Some films that have received a PG-13 rating have a director's cut with an R rating. Daredevil is just an example of this practice.[19]
  • R – Restricted – Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent Or Adult Guardian. These films may contain mild or implied sex scenes, prolonged nudity, strong violence often with blood and gore, strong horror scenes and explicit/illegal/prolonged drug use. A movie rated R for profanity often has more severe or frequent swearing than the PG-13 rating would permit. An R-rated movie may have more blood, gore, drug use, nudity, or graphic sexuality than a PG-13 movie would permit. Some R-rated films have an "unrated" DVD release with scenes of violence, sexual material, or profanity that have been edited from the original cut. At its inception, the R certificate permitted patrons aged 16 and older to attend unaccompanied, but this was raised to 17 in the 1970s.
  • NC-17 – No One 17 And Under Admitted. These films may contain strong graphic violence with loads of blood and gore, sex scenes, depraved, abhorrent behavior, sexual nudity, or any other elements which, at present, most parents would consider too strong and therefore off-limits for viewing by their children and teenagers. It is rare for a movie to get rated NC-17 due to swearing or drug use. NC-17 does not necessarily mean obscene or pornographic in the oft-accepted or legal meaning of those words. For example, the movie Robocop had to delete a few exceptionally violent scenes to avoid receiving a then-X rating. The Board does not and cannot mark films with those words. These terms are legally ambiguous, and their interpretation varies from case to case. The NC-17 designation implies that the Ratings Board has determined that due to the content of the film, it should be intended for adults only. NC-17 replaced the X rating in 1990. Many films which received X-ratings prior to the 1990 change received a re-rating of NC-17. Many theater companies and local operators will not play NC-17 titles and some newspapers and magazines will not run ads for these films. Most NC-17 titles have limited theatrical release, usually in smaller theaters, or are released directly to video or DVD. Most NC-17 titles also have an edited versions released on video and/or DVD that are either unrated or R-rated.


  • M – For mature audiences (used 1968–70). This rating is now defunct (although it is still used in the videogame rating system). Most films given this rating were re-rated PG, PG-13, or R. It was the precursor to GP, another defunct rating that is considered identical to PG.
  • GP or General audiences – parental guidance suggested – In 1970–71, the MPAA found that the "M" rating was viewed by audiences as seedier and more adult than its intended meaning (to signify films containing material that may not be appropriate for some children). In response, the designation was changed to "GP". Shortly afterward the MPAA changed it to PG– (Parental Guidance Suggested), after some people thought that it meant "General Patronage".
  • SMA – "Suggested for mature audiences". Not an official rating, but an advisory used for a number of years prior to the MPAA ratings in 1968. This advisory appeared on certain films with mature themes or violence.
  • X – The precursor to the current NC-17 rating that unlike the other ratings was not trademarked. Because it was not trademarked it became so widely used by the U.S. pornography industry that the MPAA replaced it with the NC-17 rating in 1990. This has led to the misconception that NC-17 means pornographic in content.

Film Advisory Board

The Film Advisory Board (FAB) has instituted a rating system based on the level of maturity of the material's intended audience, rather than the film's content. While the FAB ratings system is not as recognized or well known as the MPAA's rating system, it is in use by a number of commercial video distributors for direct-to-video releases that would have been impractical to submit to the MPAA. The Film Advisory Board has six ratings categories. Each includes a brief description as to the rating's explanation, such as "Violence in Battle Scenes", "Substance Abuse" or "Brief Nudity". The ratings as of 2008 are:

  • C – Children. Suitable for children ages 9 and younger.
  • F – Family. Suitable for all ages (Equal to MPAA's G rating).
  • PD – Parental Discretion. Parental discretion is advised (Equal to MPAA's PG rating). Formerly known as M.
  • PD-M – Parental Discretion-Mature. Suitable for years 13 and older (Equal to MPAA's PG-13 rating). Formerly known as VM.
  • EM – Extremely Mature. Ages 17 and older only (Equal to MPAA's R and NC-17 ratings, depending on description).
  • AO – Adults Only. Ages 18 and older only (Equal to MPAA's old X rating. Previously equal to MPAA's NC-17 rating until 2003).


The motion picture rating system used in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela varies from small child audiences to unrated films. The letter designations work in conjunction with ages:

  • AA: Suitable for audiences of small kids
  • A: Suitable for audiences 7 years or older
  • B: Suitable for audiences 12 years or older
  • C: Not permitted for audiences younger than 15 years
  • D: Not permitted for audiences younger than 18 years
  • Sin calificación: Unrated, for adults

Films that usually are rated "PG-13" or "R" sometimes change their ratings, either in a lower or higher level. For example: the 2009 motion picture Watchmen was rated "C", which is the same as "R" in the USA, but with a 15 years limit. However, the film The King's Speech was rated "B", which is the same as "PG-13" in the United States.


  1. ^ Note that this rating system is used outside Québec only.
  2. ^ The Logos and What They Mean. Motion Picture Association – Canada. . URL: Accessed: 2011-10-08. (Archived by WebCite® at
  3. ^ First film rating scheme in the making By Zhu Linyong (China Daily), Updated: 2004-12-17 00:25
  4. ^ Forum Cinemas (Estonian)
  5. ^ SPIO guidelines concerning the self-assignment of ratings (pdf, in German)
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c "Government gazette, republic of South Africa. Volume 502, number 29816." (PDF). Government printer (South Africa). 2007-04-20. pp. 4. Retrieved 2008-06-04. [dead link]
  8. ^ Court Lifts Restriction on Sexual Movies, Chosun Ilbo, January 23, 2009, retrieved 2010-07-18
  9. ^ "Spain Bans Saw VI". 2009-10-23. 
  10. ^ "Saw VI, calificada X en España. Ban "Saw VI"". SpanishDict. 2009-10-22. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  11. ^ "Swedish Media Council". Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  12. ^ "Film Classification". Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  13. ^ "Lag (2010:1882) om åldersgränser för film som ska visas offentligt". (in Swedish). 2010-12-09. 
  14. ^ "FAQ-Film Classification". (in Swedish). Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  15. ^ Rithdee, Kong. December 20, 2007. Thailand passes controversial film act, Variety (magazine); retrieved 2007-12-21
  16. ^ AsiaMedia :: Beware the watchdogs of cinema
  17. ^ The Nation: Life
  18. ^ Will Reforms Make Censorship Worse?, Simon Montlake, Time, October 11, 2007, retrieved 2007-10-12
  19. ^

See also

External links

  • The Netherlands film board's comparison of film classifications issued for twelve recent films by the classification boards of the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Sweden.
  • IMDb's information about rating systems from all over the world.
  • Information regarding film classifications from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • Australia Australian Classification Board.
  • Denmark Medierådet for Børn og Unge (The Media Council for Children and Young People).
  • Finland Valtion Elokuvatarkastamo.
  • France Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC).
  • Germany Spitzenorganisation der Filmwirtschaft e. V. (SPIO)
  • Iceland Smáís.
  • Irish Film Censor's Office.
  • Japan Administration Commission of Motion Picture Code of Ethics.
  • Korea Korea Media Rating Board.
  • Malaysia Lembaga Penapisan Filem Malaysia (Malaysia Film Filter Board)
  • Netherlands Kijkwijzer (and Nicam).
  • New Zealand Office of Film & Literature Classification.
  • Norway Media Authority.
  • Philippines Movie and Television Review and Classification Board
  • Singapore Media Development Authority.
  • Sweden Statens medieråd.
  • South African Film and Publications Board.
  • Spanish Film Academy (ACE).
  • United Kingdom British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).
  • USA Motion Picture Association of America.
  • USA VoMeR (Voluntary Media Rating)
  • YouTube YouTube Rating System

See The Article Banned Films

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